BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- "It made my heart very heavy," that's the response of the Commander of VFW Post 1461, Greg Kelm, after finding out that the Belvidere Veteran's Day Parade is canceled. That's because students in District 100 have school on Veteran's Day.
Kelm went to North Boone High School in the early 1960s, marched in the band, and then in 1970, became a medic in the Vietnam War.
The Commander points out that during his lifetime, the parade has been a tradition; a tradition he has looked forward to year after year.
He says, "I would put on my blue band uniform, my two-foot white plume, grab my trombone, come over, take the bus, and march and see the veterans. And that meant so much to me."
Kelm believes it's a shame students won't get to experience what he did as a kid and learn first hand about the men and women who served our military.
"The children have off Christmas Day, Dr. King's birthday, Columbus Day...all very important people, but it just seemed like such a slap in the face that by holding the students in school, we would not be able to have our veterans day parade," exclaims Kelm.
In a written statement, District 100 Interim Co-Superintendent Cheryl Gieseke says, "We respect the sacrifices made by the men and women in military. Holding school on Veteran's Day is not meant as a sign of disrespect; rather, it's an opportunity to educate our students on the significance of November 11th on the day specifically reserved for this remembrance."
Commander Kelm will go talk to students in Belvidere schools before Veteran's Day and after Veteran's Day, but not on Veteran's Day.
Even though there is no parade, there will still be ceremonies in Belvidere, including at the VFW Post 1461.
Above is from Channel 23 News: Belvidere Veteran's Day Parade Canceled
Honoring our military
With students in session on Veterans Day this year, the District has an opportunity to honor those who have served in the military in a way not previously available. The Belvidere High School and Belvidere North High School marching bands will still participate in the community celebration, and each school will pay tribute to veterans through classroom lessons and activities, assemblies, and sharing Veterans Day with those who have served.
Caledonia Elementary School - Many of the day's discussions and activities will center around Veterans Day, its importance, and why we celebrate it. Books will be shared with the students, and the Star Spangled Banner will be the song of the day in music.
Lincoln Elementary School - Pictures of veterans, as well as the names of family and friends who have served, will adorn the walls. An assembly will take place in the gymnasium. Veterans will present the Colors and flags from their respective branches of service, and students dressed in red, white, and blue will perform a variety of patriotic songs. In the classroom, instruction will include stories about Veterans Day, writing projects, and discussions.
Meehan Elementary School - In keeping with tradition, Meehan Elementary School will host a Veterans Day Celebration on November 10. Representatives from the Illinois National Guard will have on display a variety of military equipment, and a local family will share its replica of a battalion spotter airplane from the Vietnam War era. Current military personnel will participate in a meet and greet with students in the cafeteria during all lunch periods. Guest veterans will share photos of airplanes and ships as well as uniforms. The day will conclude with an all school assembly in the gymnasium with each student waiving a keepsake American flag during their performance of patriotic songs. On Veterans Day, teachers will share the importance of November 11 through a variety of activities.
Perry Elementary School - Veterans will eat lunch with students, many of whom have a special connection to Perry families. They will share stories prior lunch, and students will participate in Veterans Day-related classroom activities.
Seth Whitman Elementary School - The morning will begin with a flag raising ceremony courtesy of the Boy Scouts. Throughout the day students at all grade levels will engage in discussions and complete projects relative to the meaning of Veterans Day including read alouds, videos tied to activities, interviewing a veteran, wiring cards and letters to those who have served, and guest speakers.
Washington Academy - Grade-level activities have been planned for the entire school. Activities include patriotic-themed poetry in writing journals, the creation of a slide show honoring veterans, writing letters, singing patriotic songs, and spending time with active and veteran military personnel at 11:15 a.m. Photos of family and friends that have served in the military will also be on display on the Veteran Wall of Fame board.
Belvidere Central Middle School - Guest speakers will share their experiences with individual classrooms, and students will participate in a variety of Veterans Day-related activities.
Belvidere South Middle School - Grade level activities will include writing thank you notes and letters, sharing knowledge learned from family and friends who have served, a video and discussion about Arlington Cemetery, and an informational video about the history and importance of Veterans Day.
Belvidere High School - The District's very own Peter Betke will share his military experiences with students, including the year and a half he was called up from the reserves and stationed in Afghanistan. Mr. Betke is a math teacher at Belvidere High School and took a leave of absence from the classroom to fulfill his military duties. The school will also host a reception and assembly honoring our local veterans at 10:45 a.m. in the wood gymnasium.
Belvidere North High School - Students will attend a Veterans Day assembly at 2 p.m. in the gymnasium. Classroom activities throughout the day will be focused around November 11, its history, and its importance.
Thank you to all of the men and women who have served in the military
to protect us as individuals, as a country, and to protect our freedom.